Republicans, veterans group demand hearing on Afghan withdrawal

Republican lawmakers and veterans’ groups are calling for an investigation and an open congressional hearing into how the Biden administration handled the withdrawal of US troops and exhaust of US citizens and Afghan allies Afghanistan in 2021.

According to a letter obtained by NBC News, eight GOP lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia and Non-Proliferation are calling for “a thorough investigation into President Biden’s withdrawal of US forces from the country.” , The letter is addressed to Representative Gregory Meeks, D-Fla., the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Republican members of the subcommittee who have jurisdiction Afghanistanargues that the State Department did not establish a process for evacuating Americans into Afghanistan, and instead “requires veterans, congressional workers, and NGOs to do their job of coordinating with US citizens and Afghans on the ground.” Relied on informal networks.”

“There remain important unanswered questions about planning, intelligence, decision-making, inter-agency coordination, outcomes and withdrawal consequences,” he wrote. “But one thing is clear, the point of the administration is that they did the best they could with what they had. They had transparently falsified.”

Eighteen veterans groups are joining the call for an investigation and open hearing with testimony from Biden administration officials. Led by the Special Operations Association of America (SOAA), the groups wrote a letter Thursday to Meeks and Rep. Michael McCall, R-Texas, ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, saying the public “deserved”[s] transparent and robust investigation of the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan,” and the “instability that resulted.” Several groups involved in the evacuation of people from Afghanistan co-signed the letter, including Task Force Pineapple, Project Exodus Relief and Task Force Argo included.

“The American people deserve an answer for what happened in Afghanistan,” he wrote.

The SOAA CEO said it was time to investigate the chaotic return.

“It was the right call to focus on helping as many tested Afghans as possible during the NEO (Noncombatant Evacuation Operations) and in the months that followed, as thousands were being actively hunted down. [Taliban]Daniel Elkins said in an email to NBC News. “However, now is the time to start asking questions to make sure the events of last year never happen again.”

McCall agrees on the need for an open hearing. He sent his letter Thursday to Brian McCain, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, asking the State Department to participate in an open and unclassified briefing and hearing.

McCon and other State Department officials held a closed-door, classified briefing on Afghanistan policy for the Foreign Affairs Committee on June 15. McCall is now asking for some of the unclassified material to be made public.

“Having attended this classified briefing, you know that much of the discussion was unclassified. As a result, and to reiterate the specific requests of members in attendance, I would like to provide five unclassified opening statements to all HFAC members,” McCall said. wrote.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee oversees the State Department.

In a statement, a House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesman said, “The committee has held a number of briefings and hearings that have touched on Afghanistan at both the member and staff levels since August. It included five at a member-level last week. The briefing includes senior-level State Department officials, who unfortunately many of the signatories to that letter failed to attend. The Committee is also appreciating the Department’s cooperation and response to information on Afghanistan, which has come from previous administrations. There is a noticeable departure.”

According to State Department figures, there are still about 300 US citizens in Afghanistan. The State Department says more than 80 of them are actively trying to leave the country.

The State Department has received more than 67,500 applications for special immigrant visas (SIVs) and nearly 9,000 applicants approved by the US chief of mission but have not left Afghanistan.

About 47,000 Afghans who have already left Afghanistan have applied for US humanitarian parole status, but 5,400 of them have been denied and only 300 have been granted.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abigail Williams contribution,